What is ATSC 3.0?

What is ATSC 3.0? What is it used for?

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- everything RF

May 26, 2022

ATSC 3.0 is a digital terrestrial broadcast system that offers 4K ultra high definition video quality, theater-like sound, mobile reception and other innovative features to enhance and expand the broadcast viewing experience. It is built on the same Internet Protocol backbone as most streaming media platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu etc. ATSC 3.0 enables improved video and audio quality, has better compression efficiency, and provides an overall better experience to users on fixed and mobile devices.

ATSC 3.0 uses a physical layer based on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex (OFDM) modulation which is more spectrally efficient and less susceptible to multipath interference - problems faced by previous ATSC standards. It provides a 6 MHz channel with a bit rate that varies from 1 Mbit/s to 57 Mbit/s depending on the parameters used. ATSC 3.0 also uses a bootstrap signal which allows a receiver to discover and identify the signals that are being transmitted. The bootstrap signal has a fixed configuration that can support new signal types that may be used in the future. ATSC 3.0 supports digital watermarking of audio and video signals. The ATSC 3.0 standard also includes features to improve the reception of more channels of higher quality without the need for a larger antenna.

ATSC 3.0 was designed with future compatibility in mind. It supports the latest video and audio technologies like H.265 HEVC codec for video channels of up to 2160p 4K resolution at 120 frames per second, wide color gamut, high dynamic range, Dolby AC-4 (up to 7.1.4 channel surround sound) and MPEG-H 3D Audio, datacasting capabilities etc. ATSC 3.0 has provisions to support up to 8K resolution in the future among additional future-ready features like support for mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and vehicle entertainment systems by seamlessly combining broadcast TV with the Internet.

South Korea has already switched to ARSC 3.0 and has officially endorsed it as the country's broadcasting standard for ultra-high-definition television since 2016. United States has also begun deployment of ATSC 3.0 with individual broadcasting companies switching to NextGen TV across different states since 2017. By the end of 2022, more markets across the country are expected to get ATSC 3.0-broadcasting stations. These may include Fox television stations, NBCUniversal-owned television stations, Univision, SpectrumCo (whose members include Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Media Group), and others.

ATSC 3.0 is the new standard for broadcasters and OTT providers through which they can deliver the next-generation content experience. Being able to view content on any device, at any time, from any location is the demand of current audiences. To meet this demand, broadcast TV companies and OTT platforms will adapt and collaborate using the ATSC 3.0 standard to provide all content that is viewable in high quality from any device.

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